The Art Site

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Miss Fanny

I read the first three chapters of Mansfield Park a couple of days ago.
I was struck by Austen's wit. You can easily read over her amusing satire and take her style for granted, but when you look a bit closer, you realise her writing's full of her biting tongue-in-cheek-ness.

For some reason, this book [which contains perhaps the most boring and, arguably, the most insipid of Austen's heroines] and the heroine Fanny Price, was Austen's favourite, of all her books.
It's hard to know why. Fanny doesn't have a lot going for her. She's not 'tolerably pretty', with good teeth, fine eyes and a biting wit like Lizzy, she isn't an avid gothic-romance reader like Catherine; she doesn't have Anne's tragic romance and intelligence or Emma's penchant for matchmaking.
You could almost read the book and miss Fanny, she's such a shadow.
I like this movie adaption with Frances O'Connor - except for a couple of fast-forward scenes..
She's realistic, at least.
What do you think about this heroine? What makes her a girl worthy to be a heroine? Why would Austen have liked her so much?

- [a tired] Lydie

Monday, June 28, 2010


Her voice was slightly soft, contemplating. The eyes were a little strained, considering.
"hmm, I'm not sure. What do you think about this blue, with white trimming? My mum has some white lace - bought it cheap when she was making a dress a while ago - that might work under the bodice, and as trimming around the neckline and skirt."
"Yeah, but there's black. That might work really well with blue aye."
"Ooh, should we go with blue and black then?"
The girl was sitting on the cork floor, wielding a butcher's knife. Her face was slightly raised, thinking, one hand holding the meat axe, suspended in midair. Large bits of lamb were being assaulted.
"So what should we do for dessert then?"
"What were you thinking?"
"Not sure. We were going to go with the chocolate mousse aye, but I'm not sure we have the ingredients for it."
"We could do something with apples then. Like apple crumble?"
"And ice cream? Yeah, that might work!"
It felt like a trap. The iron lid clanging as it fell, the mind inside a dank pit, no escape. Wanting to do the right thing, but not enough to see the right thing to its conclusion. Trying to help, to keep the peace in that situation where two warring minds collide, pierce each other and retreat. An armistice might be called, but at what cost? Peace does not mean resolution. Her mind, usually seeking to eliminate anything difficult and disturbing from itself, could not do battle with the situation, and dark closed in.
Thoughts/prayers. God, Your timing is amazing! - I should have trusted You more, of course... Of course You'd provide. And this is so ideal, You knew all along - but wanted to test my faith? I'm glad You did. I needed it..
"It's like a different world." The girl with the long brown hair nodded, understanding.
"All these amazing dresses.."
"I really like this one." She pointed to the dress, sweeping white satin with a beaded bodice and crimson satin detail.
"Or this green one - cream and green go so well together. Anything green, actually."
- - -
The shop lady, black-jacketed with white crochet detail, was trying to sell the girl-with-the-golden-hair the Most Beautiful Wedding Dress In The World. The golden-haired-one looked unsure, yet her eyes revealed the strong temptation to buy the dress in that impossibly beautiful moment. Her hair fell in ripples over the broad, thin shoulders, away down the back of the satin ribbon-laced back.
The two would-be bridesmaids gazed at the dress, and at the golden-haired-one. She was beautiful, queenly, in the beaded bodice, the pleated satin waist, flowing white skirt and lacy petticoat. The circular train fell just so and swept the polished wood of the floor. Her eyes met those eyes in the Extraordinarily Large, gold-framed mirror, as she saw what she Could Be, if she had the dress.

- Lydie

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Not so much silence as stillness. Peace of the uncluttered mind. Strange that calm overtakes the preoccupied body when in those rare moments, the mind forces the hands to sink down, the eyelids close and the mind lie blank, thinking on the end of nothing.
Like a hibernating computer, the brain prepared to re-focus, yet sitting dormant in the sudden quiet.

The woman breathed; in, out. Expelling thoughts, re-focusing. Mind blurring those thoughts like breaths; in, out. So many rejected, a few chosen, used.
Minds awake now, so late at night and nearly morning; thoughts ballooning, larger in the dark of silent rooms, large in the troubled expanse of midnight. Biting psychological nails, spirals of internal laughter thinking back on the day, the stealthy approach of sleep like shadows, infiltrating the mind. Nothing remembered of that state between consciousness and the subconscious in the chill light of morning. Only the weary repetition of clutching anxiety, thoughts still imprisoned in the journey of the mind.

The body was tired. Knuckle joints aching, exhaustion pressing behind the darkened globes of the eyes and the lids falling over them, down, down, black slits in the impassive face. The shoulders drooped, were straightened by the resisting mind, fell. The heater behind the back radiated heat to the cheeks, flushing with pin-points of warmth.

- Lydie

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fridge Words

Great things are happening on our fridge at the moment. People come up to our fridge, park themselves in front of it, stare at it, then start laughing. This phenomenon began last night, when my friend brought out a bottle of "Writer's Remedy", a glass jar full of the magnetic words you put on fridges. Like, the whole set of them, not one missing.

Sentences have been made, like:
"Investigate wine" and
"Spy on a translucent ghost"
"Use finite emotion to manipulate experience"
"Drown a poet if he wails & howls at people who dance"
"Pickle that electric dead body"
"I am a devil obsessed with the precious" and
"Invisible orchestras suck".

I just know that brilliance will be created on our fridge from now on.

- Lydie

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What was lost is now found

I'm packing up my room at the moment because I'm planning to get out of our house in the next week. No, it's not a teenage rebellion thing actually; my revered parents are going overseas for an outrageously long time to have a fantastic traipse around the globe, and they are leaving me alone, like a sparrow on a rooftop. [Psalm 102:7]. Except that this sparrow intends to have a roof over her head, unlike David's legendary bird.
Packing up anything can scarcely be called 'fun' yet it can't fail to be interesting, when there's so much accumulated history to unpack first.
When you start unpacking the room, in order to sort through everything and stick it in boxes, you get a horrible, confused mess. It literally looks as though a dragon has danced around your room; the ground is covered with every conceivable item known to man, and your brain has lost every particle of organising skill you once possessed.
The difficulty is that a lot of what was stored in odd corners and strange boxes and containers was placed there covertly because you didn't know what to do with the stuff last time you had to deal with it. A room can look properly tidy, yet underneath it's pristine outer layer is hidden all manner of strange odds and ends from your childhood.
For instance, old clothes [yikes, I used to wear that!], random knick knacks that you appreciate and treasure as a child, then have to part with when you're older and wiser, and stacks of pens and old schoolwork and perfume and old socks and [horrible, broken] jewelery and stickers and toys and bizarre tapes and bits of lego and paint tubes and etc.

Strange remnants of life when you were younger. [Yeah, it's okay, I'm not going to reminisce or start to muse on the transience of life].
But two good things happened while I was sifting through the junk. As happens when you're sorting through junk you haven't seen for an age, you find things. I found an earring! A particularly special, bluey-green earring shaped like a starfish, that my respected Grandmother had bought for me. The brilliant thing was, it was the earring that perfectly matched its partner that I had kept in hopes of finding its mate. It was a happy reunion.

The other good thing was that I was looking through a box of old clothes that I'd rejected the last time I was sorting and pulled out two items of clothing. The first was an amazing, vivid, blue-and-green [see a theme running here?] splashed silk scarf. I saw a part of it submerged in the mundane colours of the other clothes, and my heart stopped [poetically, rather than literally]. I pulled it out and it was SO beautiful - why had I ever tried to get rid of it? Naturally, I instantly folded it and tied it around my head like a gypsy.
And the third good thing that happened [ha, you didn't see that coming] was that in the same box of rejected clothes I found a deep blue, flower-sprigged dress [with green leaves, note that recurring theme]! In a most attractive pattern, with a tiny ribbon-fabric bow on the front of the fitted bodice, and flaring slightly to a graceful knee length.
Sorry to any male readers for that description. I know you can't bear to read stuff like that.
Now I just need to go somewhere special in my newly paired starfish earrings, scarf and blue dress!

- thought - Mum and Dad should go away more often ;)

- Lydie

Anonymity FTW

Aww, check this out!

My all-time favourite anonymous commenter has made a blog for me to read! I asked her if I could see her blog, but wasn't allowed because it had details like her name on it. So now I get to know this mysterious person a little more, yet the mysterious person retains her mystique! Love it.

- Lydie

p.s. - two posts in one day! That's surely a record.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I was reading about Night today, on Wiki of course. It made me get out of my lovely, idealized world for a little while, forcing my mind to scrape the edges of true horror, humanity's depravity and the black descent of the soul. Eliezer was a fairly normal Jewish Orthodox lad, living in northern Transylvania with his family; their country was annexed in 1940 by Hungary and most of the population were sent to the gas chambers or to slave labour and concentration camps by the Germans.

Elie survived the utter brutality of the camp Auschwitch; the U.S. Third Army freed the prisoners in April 1945. But he wasn't free. Liberation can not restore five years of soul-killing horror. Although he had strongly believed in God through his Jewish Orthodoxy before the annexation, and continued to be a devout believer through part of his time in the camp, he soon could not reconcile the hideous suffering he saw with his former belief in God. He watched as babies were used as target practice by soldiers, as hundreds of prisoners were tossed into fire pits and more were starved and beaten.

Elie's story reminds me of 1984. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a fairly ordinairy guy with a sense of right and wrong. After intense psychological and physical pain, he sells his soul by betraying Julia, the girl he loves.

The question that is bugging me is: Wouldn't I do the same? If I went through the horror that Elie suffered, or was tortured like Winston - would my love and faith for God die? Or would I be like Foxe's martyrs, and trust to death? A belief is only worth something if you're willing to die for it - and not just die for it, but suffer hideously for it. Because if it's worth more than what's in the world, then it must be worth more than anything the world can do to your body.

I don't want weak faith. Anything could happen to me. Like Elie, my life could be annexed by horror and I'd have to do one of two things, believe or despair.

Do you have a belief worth dying for?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Nothing Post. This is where you tell me something new and interesting since I can't think of anything to write about.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday, stream of consciousness.

Dishwasher humming. Back aching. Mum looking through the bible for a verse she needs. Rustling paper. Plastic-click of keys as she punches them. Thinking about today. Did anything happen? Fragments, nothing united. Stares avoided. Wide smiles. Oratory skills of the new preacher. Rain lighted by the car's lights. Kitchen people. Worrying about breaking a cup (again). A sausage roll falling down, catching alight in the oven. Running. Losing a hymn sheet. Finding it. Flushed faces, stray hairs. Waiting in line, coffee-time. Do I look okay? No earrings. That's why I feel incomplete! 10 minutes before we need to leave, dear (should have set the alarm clock). Squirt of hand sanitizer after leaving the rest home. Like loving the people in that room then washing them off. Singing. Do I sound okay? Getting the first note wrong - oh, it's so low. Now it's too high! Laughing hard. Laughter dying. Will my parents open the door? Leaning against the red bricks of the entrance. Waiting. Finally! Explanation time - no, I'll try not to do anything crazy when you've gone. Modeling proper feminine decorum. You can trust me. Quietness. Reflecting - did I really say that? Tomorrow morning I'll be horrified at myself. Cleaning tomorrow. That's right. Packing up. Boxes and tape. Should I make breakfast for my parents? I'll be too tired. I need to box up my room, leave. Where to? Have to rely on God. Have to. And gardening. Must weed the vege patch.

- Lydie

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I've recently become a fan of boiled eggs.
They must be ever-so-slightly soft in the center, be served on in a cute little egg cup and be sprinkled with salt and cracked pepper. And be hot! So important - a slightly clammy, luke-warm egg would simply be unacceptable.
Although I would eat it, for the fact that it was a boiled egg. I would just protest.
What do you think about boiled eggs? Are you averse to them, apathetic, or do you love them strongly?
It seems there are some people (like Theresa) who have come from hating eggs to loving them. It was an almost necessary change; she became gluten free and had to eat something, and then gradually came to appreciate them!

There are many different ways that people eat their eggs. Some are unique and strange...
Some people enjoy eggs that have barely been boiled; they drip. That's awful - the mere idea makes me shudder.
I was greatly disturbed yesterday when one of my boiled eggs was slightly slushy. I had to tip the egg upside down and let that... fluid drip on to my plate. Eww. But, people ought to feel free to eat eggs in their own style. It seems that the eggs' texture is a matter of intense concern to many people, and is entirely a personal preference.
Mm.. toast and boiled egg! Amazing. I hope I dream of them tonight...

- Lydie

p.s. my mum was concerned about my sudden liking for boiled eggs - because they are apparently extremely high in cholestorol. I did a little research, and found that the consumption of two eggs each day has shown no adverse effect on healthy people. In fact, egg yolks contain many essential vitamins and essential minerals. Therefore (based on the premise that I'm a healthy person) I feel fine about eating them! You should too :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Degas & Ballet

Degas painted women.
He actually painted women, which is more than can be said for John Waterhouse. He captured their essence, whereas House only caught one small dimension of their character.
Ballet was a big theme; that's where you find pretty women I suppose.
He seemed to be preoccupied with these girls rearranging their costumes. Still, that's what you do when you have thirty seconds to get ready before you're on stage again.
He liked the contrast of the old ballet teacher and the young girls. He includes this man and his knobbly walking stick in a lot of the ballet paintings.
Note the contrapposto attitude of these girls. Degas certainly did idealize women to some extent.

I'm noticing that he picks a colour scheme and runs with it - you'll find the women's bodies complement the backgrounds, because Degas tinted the flesh blue or pink or brown, based on his theme colours.
*Sigh*. I love ballet. I used to take lessons when I was a young lass, but after several years the Doctor said I had to stop - some problem with my feet. Seems to be a commonality with young girls, to take ballet lessons for a few years, dream of being a Real Ballerina one day, and then stop.

- Lydie

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Glorious Qur'an

I'm reading the Qur'an at the moment.

At our University clubs days earlier this year I was given The Glorious Qur'an. A Muslim society had a little stall at the end of the row of tables, with a bookshelf parked out in front of their table. I spotted the books sitting on the shelf, and inquired if I could take one - they gave me a copy happily. I think I said I'd read it. Sadly, it's not the real deal: it's called "A Simplified Translation of The Qur'an for Young People." Well, that fits me.
What is cool about it is that it has the Arabic Text next to the English Translation - so I can flick my eyes over at the beautiful Arabic words, (which go backwards), as I read.

There's a section called "About Prophet Muhammad" which comes before the text. Interestingly, when a Muslim says or writes the word "Muhammad" referring to the Prophet, it seems to be correct ettiquette to immediately say "peace be upon him" afterwards. Throughout this little section about the Prophet's life, the abbreviation "p.b.u.h." is littered - easier for the typist I suppose.

I might give some updates on the Qur'an and some thoughts I have of it. It would be very interesting to compare the Qur'an to the Bible..

Here's a picture I found - I've decided that the man is just very small.

- Lydie

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My friend Theresa and I made gluten-free squiggles yesterday.

For the uninitiated, squiggles are (by far) the best biscuits In The World. They surpass in every way every other biscuit in existence, simply because they have everything going for them.
They start off with a plain (almost unappetising) vanilla biscuit, with necessarily fluted edges. Over the biscuit is spread a thick, buttery-caramel icing, pale golden in colour. On top of this are bits of hokeypokey, chopped up and pressed into the icing. As though that weren't good enough, the biscuits are dipped into melted milk/dark chocolate, and left to set.
And then, the grand finale: the reason for the name. White chocolate is melted and coloured a caramel colour, then piped in squiggles over the biscuit.
I don't need to explain why Squiggles are the best after that description, as I'm convinced you must all now agree. Although other biscuits have their merits, they ain't got nothin' on the Great Squiggle.
So, we made them. It wasn't really hard: I made the cookies (easy), Theresa came over and we made the icing (and flavoured it with maple! Maple works instead of caramel flavour which we didn't have! Or, if you're a really boring person you could use vanilla), my excellent mother made us hokeypokey which we chopped up and pressed into the icing, then we melted chocolate and dipped the cookies. We had no idea we'd need SO MUCH chocolate - we just kept melting the stuff.
After that, we melted some white chocolate and coloured it blue, yellow and pink, then piped it on the biscuits. They looked so much like the original Squiggles (but better).
And then we took photos!
Finally, a word of advice: If you're in the middle of piles and piles of study that MUST be done, and you desperately need to procrastinate, head over to a friends' house and make biscuits (preferably Squiggles) with them. Eating a certain number of Squiggles each day helps your brain to function properly - just don't eat too many, otherwise your heart might stop functioning properly..

If you want the recipe, ask Theresa, over at :)
What's your favourite biscuit?

- Lydie

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I See Old People

Isn't it strange to think that we'll all be old one day?
I can't imagine it, the present is too immediate. Our society's emphasis on youth, beauty, fashion, sport and the aquisition of money makes me forget that I'll be 75 one day (maybe) when none of those things will impact me.

But one day, we'll have really saggy bits, we'll probably lose at least a part of our eyesight, we might need walking sticks or a frame (horrors!) and, most tragically, our fashion sense will be quite gone.
We'll be way more fragile, and become susceptible to getting infections and diseases, as our bodies wind down and our vital organs lose their vitality.
If we're lucky, our children will let us stay with them and their families - if we're unlucky, we'll end up in a resthome, an ordinairy one or one for dementia patients.
If we get dementia (a not unlikely occurrence) we may spend the rest of our lives talking away to ourselves, or reliving old stories as though they're still relevant, or we may wander up and down purposelessly. Perhaps we may believe that our parents are still alive, or that we don't live at the resthome, but live with our families. If we're still computer savvy, maybe we'll spend a lot of our time on PensionBook.
If we're christians, we'll (hopefully) believe that we don't ever need to spend our lives, as some fit and well old people do, playing golf or going bowling.
Perhaps we'll realise that we can strive to be unselfish even in our old age, and work harder for God in evangelism, youth training, Christian book writing, and mission work. Maybe we can volunteer for work in our churches, and maybe the old women can train up the young women and wives. They could challenge the young people in their congregations to quit wasting their lives in superficialities, sport, fashion and petty relationships, and help them to see their potential for being world-shattering christians. They could be amazing models to young christians of what a Christian should look like after living a self-sacrificing life for Christ.

I would LOVE to be an old person like that! How do you plan to spend your life from 65 onwards?

- Lydie

Monday, June 14, 2010

something new

I wrote on another blog tonight - called 'Meditations of a Cod', which is a blog devoted to a story that has many authors. No one had written anything since December, and I finally broke the trend! Here's the link, if you're interested...

- Lydie :)

p.s. I've finished uni for the semester! I'm so glad. The last exam was today, and my hand is almost recovered. Hope your study and exams go well, y'all.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The girl sitting at the green vinyl-covered table was looking out of the window. Beyond the tangled cape gooseberry plant and blueberry bushes were triangular blocks of houses, shapeless outlines against the pale blue sky.
There were fragments of gray-touched white cloud that sat over the feathery outline of a deciduous tree. Each leafless branch was raised upwards, the twigs and branching arms intertwined and overlapping in the distance. Flickers of light from the sky on the black lines.
Then the clouds gathered themselves together in one smooth white arch. Blue deepened as evening approached and the clear blue was shot through with the falling sun that accentuated the tree's branches.

The girl swallowed. There was another world out there that didn't have anything to do with the papers, pens and laptop before her. Sheets of neatly written mind-maps, tiny handwriting. Facts, links and themes all branching from the topics in the middle of the pieces of paper - she was supposed to be forcing that information into her unwilling brain. Even though the sky outside was deepening and the magnolia tree was reaching bony branch-arms into the dining room with tiny buds that were glowing in the evening sun. Impossible. She looked at the screen before her - tiny writing, tiny details that led to one big event.
But it was coming, and she had to study. Had to, otherwise there would be a bad grade that would last in her mind longer than the clouds outside.

- Lydie

Friday, June 11, 2010

The (non) humble Persimmon

Something went wrong with our internet connection early this morning, and I couldn't post it. So here it is...
Persimmons are an odd sort of fruit.
Mum bought some today - seconds, because they're cheaper than the elitist ones without spot or blemish. We ate a couple this evening.. they're reddy-orange in colour and have a shine that makes them look like they've been varnished.

The calix is a green flower where the stem's been cut; it's dried and papery but an interesting contrast to the smooth orange skin. They tasted good. The texture's why I called it 'odd' - when you're eating a piece of persimmon it has all these different textures within the one piece.
A standard apple isn't like that. You get rid of the icky core and you've got evenly textured apple-flesh which you (vampirishly) bite into. The persimmon's a completely different animal.
Upgrading from eating common fruits like apples and kiwifruit to trying to appreciate a persimmon requires serious concentration.
Here's the anatomy of the fruit:
Check out those concentric circles. You can feel those circles when you eat a persimmon. Promise.
This fruit belongs to the Ebony tree family, of the genus Diospyros. Before you fall asleep, that word Diospyros means "the fruit of the gods" in Ancient Greek. The humble persimmon was the fruit that scholastics have argued was the 'lotus' which nearly made Ulysses' crew want to stay on an island (I don't know which one) and eat the fruit for the rest of their lives, in the joyous company of the Lotus-Eaters. I certainly doubt that the Persimmon was the fruit of that mythical tale: the fruit doesn't deserve an adjective beyond 'nice'.

One must be cautious when choosing persimmons to buy: Unripe persimmons contain inedible, astringent tannins, and overripe persimmons taste like sweetened, cooked mush. One should judge carefully: the fruit must be firm yet yield slightly to pressure; if you buy rock-hard ones they mightn't be unripe, but most likely you won't get to eat them at the proper time. Persimmons appear to be temperamental (like women) - one moment they're hard as nails, the next moment they're destined for the compost.
Persimmons are also aesthetically pleasing.

- Lydie

Thursday, June 10, 2010

La Belle Femme

They didn't have photoshop back in the days when John Waterhouse - the great painter of women - was around. He didn't need it. He had an eye for beautiful women (in the painterly, as well as the *ahem* more R18 sense) - if he wanted to paint the ideal of feminine beauty, why, he screwed out the paint and dabbed it here and there - hey presto, a beautiful woman.

Even though I admire (and have fallen partially in love with) a lot of what he painted, I hold a strong and abiding grudge against him. He was the key idealizer of women in the 19th Century.
Because that's what he painted, 99.9% of the time - the only times I remember he painted men was the effeminate Narcissus, staring mesmerized at his reflection in a pond, and the Great Ulysses, tied to the mast of his ship - and even then there were female sirens floating around.

And in every painting he did of women, he painted them as impossibly beautiful objects in an idealized setting. Take this painting, for example.

Look at her. Nobody looks like that, and certainly no woman dresses in a flowing, pink-sashed dress with bare feet, to pick flowers by herself in an outrageously beautiful fairyland. No one. Note her hair - even though she's outside, not one single hair is out of place in that smooth, raven coiffure. I conclude that she is not at all real - rather, she's an idealized object designed to attract men and make women envious. They could never be a part of that world. Here's another one of the Great Waterhouse's works:
I don't know the history behind this little masterpiece. It probably ran something like this though: A well known lady-thief, infamous for horse stealing, once managed to steal a horse from a poor knight who fell off the horse when he saw her coming up the road. He jumped to his feet and gazed at her wondrous beauty, but when he saw the full extent of her perfect complexion he flung out his arms, had a mini-heart attack, and died on the spot. The moral of the story is: Beauty is Dangerous.

hmm. Perhaps not - maybe it's something dumb like: a rather stunning female happened to be passing by a rather good-looking knight. They, (ahem) kiss. Or something. He remains in his paralytic shock for the rest of his life because she's so be-yew-tiful.
Right, on to the next one..
Now this one's really annoying. It looks like it's been painted precisely for men to see - her shawl accentuating her figure just so, her face up-turned for the (male) viewer. That is no woman. She is as much a model of femininity as a Barbie doll is - although admittedly, a little more life-like. But in the sense that she's all thoughtful and not all there: there's not enough reality and real, emotional femininity going on.
Okay, last one.
This is a moment in time. A woman, beautiful as the day, drinking in the perfume of a perfect pink rose. I sort of like this, because I sympathise with the feeling that associates snuffing in the delicate scent of a rose. But even if I did get into one of these idealistic moods that this woman's stuck in, I would tell myself off/laugh at myself for doing so. I wouldn't allow myself to continue to live in a ridiculously idealistic world - I hope. The same can be said for most of us.

What do you think about these portrayals of idealized femininity? Are they helpful or harmful to men and women?

- Lydie


I would write a proper post on here - but I've spent all my spare time commenting on this blog! So I'll get some sleep instead. This will be the shortest post in this blog's history :)
Goodnight, world.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

seeping cold

It's cold.
The windows, single-glazed, allow heat transfer from inside to outside, and cool the artificially heated rooms. Flowery curtains, draped down past the window ledges, can't stop the air cooling as the round, blaring heaters blast heat then pause, waiting till the room cools again, to continue pumping heated air that merges and cools with colder air.

Outside there is pervasive silence. Not even a drip from the eaves can be heard; the sky is quieted after its explosion of frozen and liquid water that speeded to earth from the skulking masses of gray earlier today. The hail that fell whitely on the neighbour's roof tops, has melted, freezing the tin and trickled down the pipes into the sinking gardens.

The chill of the day bespeaks the reason for my attire. I'm sitting here, in the shadow of the bunk bed, thinking. About lives in transition, and character building through difficulties, of what loneliness is and the need to be true to oneself. Secretly, I'm glad about my warm winter clothes.

They're not pretty to look at. If they were, they would be departing from their function as snug, roomy, thick, protective layers - designed to keep the warmth in and the chill out, not at all meant to be attractive to the eye. I'm wearing my study pants: thick knitted woolen slouch-pants, navy in colour and high-waisted. They're an oddity that I was happy to find at an opshop around the corner; at our first meeting I knew that our relationship would be a deep and abiding one, that they would be my study pants and that they would be excellent protection in the cold winter. I was utterly right; I've worn them a couple of times so far (I only picked them up last week) and they have proved snug and altogether suitable for long bouts of study.

The other important study gear that I'm wearing at the moment is a fine, machine-knitted woolen gray jersey. It used to be a man's jersey (men get it good when it comes to clothing) but is admirable for my purposes. It's hugely big, but it's warm with its baggy stomach-area, and its mammoth sleeves. Over the jersey I'm wearing a large, green jacket that sports a hood lined with some synthetic, fluffy material.

These are the necessary elements of studying in winter. What are your favourite things to wear when it starts to freeze outside?

- Lydie

Monday, June 07, 2010

Fairies and Bugles

I couldn't think of much to write about today, so here's one of Tennyson's poems. It's called "Blow, Bugle, Blow"...
Before you read it, imagine a dark sky with stars glinting through skeleton-trees, the ruins of a noble castle, crumbling in rough heaps of dusty stone, dark tentacles of ivy, over spreading the ruins, and a black lake, shining in the moon's path..

Also, imagine that another, ancient fairy world lies just beyond this landscape - so close that you can hear its music. *By the way, I'm not entirely sure why the words didn't come up, but the blank space actually isn't blank. The words are in white - if you click and drag on the blank-ness, you'll see the words - almost magically.*

THE splendour falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,5
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!10
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,15
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

- Lydie

Sunday, June 06, 2010

How are you?

It's a conversation starter, primarily. It also doubles for the: "I haven't talked to you for a really long time, and I'm making up for the neglect by getting you to talk about yourself." Another way it is used is when people feel they ought to talk to you, but don't know you and so have very little to talk about. Asking someone how they are not only helps put the trouble of conversation-making on the other person, but gives you conversation options once the person's done trying to explain their state of being. Also, the question is used as another form of "hello", which ought be answered with "good thanks".

When people ask me this question, I often give them a blank stare while I try to collect my thoughts, or I'll look into space, trying to analyse just how I am. People get a little weirded out by this at times.
I reckon the question's covertly difficult, for the following reasons:

a) Even if it were possible to explain to someone just how you were, it's hard to know how much you should tell the inquirer about yourself, and whether or not they actually want to know how you are, or are just being polite.
b) The two-second response time you have to examine your physical/emotional/psychological state seems like too little time to decide just how you are. After all, not many people even think about how they are at many points during the day; and if they do, the definition of how they are quite likely isn't the kind of thing they want to go trying to explain to someone they don't know.
c) It seems that one's actual state of being can be so complicated - even if by just little, un-analysed feelings, that it is too elusive to be put into thoughts, let alone be explained to someone else.
d) It's such an awkward conversation starter, since no one is as interested to hear about you as they are to talk about themselves.

How are you: Do you find it hard to answer?

- Lydie

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen

I'm writing an essay on the concept of a 'gentleman' at the moment.

Have you ever considered just what a gentleman is? When I think of him, he's standing stiffly erect, trying to keep his top hat from sliding off, unbending in his black starched coat and trousers; he's courteous to everyone, chivalry personified to ladies and always has a freshly ironed, initialed handkerchief to give to damsels in distress.

He doesn't really do much, but spends his days at the local gentleman's club. His money was inherited and because of it he doesn't understand the concept of working to survive.
The two main books I'm using are - *wait for it* - North & South...
...and Pride & Prejudice.

For our last essay in my English course, we were required to find a topic, formulate a question and develop an argument to answer the question.
Here's mine: Compare and Contrast (don't you just love those NCEA winners) the changing views fictional heroines have of the concept of a gentleman (teehee) in the novels Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, and North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Margaret and Elizabeth certainly changed their views. Margaret believed Mr. Thornton was a tyrannical master who didn't care a hoot for his workers - and was 'not quite a gentleman' - to deciding, in the end, that she wasn't good enough to marry him. Elizabeth, who had more grounds for disapprobation (love the word, stole it straight from her rejection of Darcy) of Mr. Darcy, based on his "arrogance, conceit and selfish disdain for the feelings of others" - to deciding that he'd improved so much, that her opinion of him had reversed itself completely when he asked her again.
Women. They're such impressionistic idealists.

This idea of a 'gentleman' that the two ladies advocate seems to be a mix of culture, eloquence and easy manners. Margaret's belief that Thornton isn't quite the gentleman is based solely on his status as a manufacturer, and the fact that these kinds of tradesmen lack the finer qualities of a gentleman - like courteousness, pleasantry, an informed mind and accomplishments. Her 'cold quietness of demeanor' when she's forced to make conversation with him the first time they meet completely unnerves Thornton, who as a mill owner and magistrate is used to a fair bit of deference.

Elizabeth's ideas are less aery faery - she's repulsed by the fabulously wealthy Darcy because his manners are apalling. While Margaret sees gentlemanliness as primarily conduct dictated by a man's status, Elizabeth (the enlightened one) sees gentlemanliness in men of any station - for instance, her mistaken view of Mr. Wickham's character, and her uncle's gentlemanly character.
Anyway, it's outrageously early, and my thoughts are running out. Ideas, anyone?

- Lydie

Friday, June 04, 2010


Yesterday afternoon I was biking home from Uni. It was cold, but there was blue in the sky - so good to see after all the rain we've had. May broke new records: we had more rain that month than Canterbury has had in thirty years, gray, oppressive skies and never-ceasing rain, growing puddles and mini-waterfalls pouring into the drains.
When I turned into the big park close to our house and biked along the path, the sun had seeped through the clouds and was laying itself flat against the grass, making it vividly green, stretching out across the wide expanse to the rugby league building. It glowed through the red-brown leaves of the canadian maple trees that spread branches over the path. Across from me, out on the grass a lady was throwing a ball for her golden retriever puppy to catch. The (very) golden retriever glided to the ball and.. um, retrieved it. It was like a movie shot - everything happening so perfectly, and with such ideal beauty.
I had a thought after I passed them: ideal beauty pleases us humans so much. It's so satisfying when we have a day that is 'perfect' or when a story is completed well, with everyone happy, or when we see a picture that is so narrow in its focus and components that the image is 'beautiful'. Women who have the most symetrical faces are the most desired, while women with less symmetry are perhaps more loved. Seeing the pink-and-blue of a sunrise is mesmerizing, while red-and-gold sunsets leave us gaping.
Life is only like that in spots though. It seems that we strive for an ideal lifestyle based on our love of these small times where beauty reigns. But perhaps beauty-worship isn't such a good idea: after all, the kind of beauty we love so much is appreciated because it is rare, and over so quickly. If we were confronted with the physical reality of an idealized world we would soon discard our previous ideas of perfect beauty and want something more fulfilling.
In comparison to those vivid colours of light on grass, my world - cooped up in a room studying - was a slightly depressing gray colour, full of little mistakes and notes and dampness and non-completeness and non-perfection. I decided that the comparison didn't really matter after I'd thought about it a bit more: so long as I could put those bright bits of light and colour into my mind I could remember them whenever I wanted to.
But perhaps I was wrong: maybe we should look at all aspect of our life with eyes that are tuned to see beauty everywhere - in the faces of old men and women in resthomes, in the severe blocks of University buildings and the outlines of trees against gray skies. Maybe we shouldn't see beauty as an ideal. What do you think? How do you see beauty?

- Lydie

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

G is for Glutened

I'm a plagiarizer. I stole the title of this post from Theresa's blog. Then tweaked it a little...
It's my fault, of course. My mum came into my study-room this evening and showed me a little tin of signature range stock powder, a product similar to this:
She'd come to ask if it was okay to use it in the gravy she was making for tea. I read the ingredients with my gluten-free scanner eyes. Onion flavour, it read, which contained wheat. I decided it would be okay - not too bad, and perhaps a little bit of the gluten wouldn't affect me.
Dinner was amazing - pork chops (wonders will never cease), home-grown potatoes, apple sauce. - Thanks, Mum.
And some particularly delicious gravy.
Later on this evening I was studying for my Political Science test on Friday - and felt the glutened feeling - the tight stomach and aching gut. After a while I realized I was feeling a bit off colour, and attributed it to that infinitesimal amount of wheat.
I was duly impressed that that tiny amount of gluten could do nasty things to me.. It certainly shows the power wheat possesses.

Later on this evening, after I'd given up studying (too many other things on my mind), I walked out to our living room and spied on the table one, solitary ferrero rocher chocolate, alone in its packet of three. Its golden packaging glistened, and I looked at it with a small measure of contentment. As there was only one left, mum and dad must have eaten theirs and left me with that one.
And then it hit me. The wafer. Hidden underneath that melting milk chocolate-and-almond coating, is a dangerously thin layer of gluten-filled wafer. Tarnation! I realized with a feeling of horror that Ferrero Rochers *must* be dead to me forever. Here's a clinical dissection of a Ferrero Rocher:
Later on this evening. Mum came into the living room where I was faithfully writing out the first part of this post. Then she did a lovely, lovely thing. She asked me if I wanted the Ferrero Rocher, and I then had to explain my predicament. Without much ado she took a knife and painstakingly scraped off the chocolate from the dangerous wafer-shell. Then she scraped off the shell from the nutella-coated hazlenut nestled inside. When this was completed, she handed me the finished product (minus the (did I mention 'dangerous'?) wafer), with the chocolate heaped up next to the almost-smooth nutella-covered hazlenut ball.
I love you mum. <3 It was incredibly delicious. I closed my eyes for several seconds, savouring that intense, melting experience, and the crunchy, toasted hazlenut..

- Lydie

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


I came across this funny + bizarre picture when searching for bubble images. It was the kind of thing that needed to be shared, regardless of the purpose of this post.
I was waiting for the bus today, after a stressful day at uni, getting a history essay finished off. The bus stop, just across the road from the university buildings was the perfect place to think thoughtful thoughts.
I was tired. I'd stayed up into the wee sma's, working on the essay, and had just dropped it into the 'history' box in the history department. It's always a relief to get rid of essays, but the actual drop-off is quite anti-climatical. After so much agonized thought and late nights and *dratted* references and editings and re-editings etc. there should really be a drum roll when you drop it off.
Nothing happened when my essay fell into the basket. I had to just leave it there and walk out of the building.
I digress. The air was chilly, the trees on the Uni side of the road were networks of spartan branches, their leaves half buried in the mud beneath them. The cars approached, came nearer, whizzed by me and rushed away. The sound was remarkably similar to waves on a beach - I closed my eyes and half-imagined I was at the seaside.
It almost worked, until in the corner of my eye I saw a cyclist laboriously cycling along, with a noise that I quickly imagined sounded a little like a whale. That really stretched my imagination.
There were people around - something not unusual for a bus stop - with their hands in their pockets. Just standing or sitting, waiting for the buses. Their faces were expressionless, a mask for their insular thoughts. Nobody talked, even though we all shared a connection with each other - being uni students and waiting for a bus.
Usually I take it for granted that people don't speak to each other if they don't know each other. It can be a strange concept when you think about it though. Why is it that we feel that speaking naturally to someone we don't know is an incredibly intrusive thing to do? We always have to have a reason for speaking to them when we do go out of our way to do it.

It felt like we were all in silent bubble-lives, everyone living in isolation in their own little lives.
That's something we know is true already, but when you're with a group of silent, preoccupied people you feel the impact of it. The bubles sometimes merge with other bubbles - it feels so lovely when, by providence you meet a friend at uni. Then your bubble-like life stops for a little while until the friend leaves you and you're back in the bubble.
*train of thought ends*
I just love these bubble pictures. Look at this one..

They're so perfect, but they're lonely to live inside.

- Lydie
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